Taking a feminist approach to international relations: position paper

This position paper sets out the scope and guiding principles of our feminist approach to international relations.

Next Steps

1.13 Framework for delivery

The National Performance Framework (NPF) is Scotland’s wellbeing framework. Through 11 National Outcomes, it sets out the kind of Scotland it aims to create. The NPF measures progress on these Outcomes and brings together environmental, social, economic and cultural measures of success.

The National Outcomes:

  • Reflect the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland;
  • Are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs); and
  • Help track progress in reducing inequality.

Scotland was one of the first countries to commit to the UN SDGs, which includes the goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. The Scottish Government is committed to tackling poverty and inequality both at home and abroad to promote fair and sustainable growth. Our integration of the SDGs into the NPF underlines our ambition to make the SDGs a fundamental part of the work we do as a government.

The Scottish Government’s international work builds strategic relationships to promote Scotland’s strengths and values internationally, directly contributing to the National Performance Framework outcome “We are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally”. Our feminist approach to international relations will support the delivery of domestic policy objectives as we continue to project the values we espouse on the global stage.

We will ensure the outcomes from our feminist approach to international relations are mapped onto the NPF National Outcomes. We will seek to ensure that monitoring and evaluation provides the information required to understand progress towards our outcomes, the impact of the policy and its impact on other National Outcomes and SDGs.

The National Outcomes are currently being reviewed to ensure that the NPF reflects the ambition of communities in Scotland. The review is ongoing and is due to conclude in 2024.

1.14 Ongoing collaborative approach

In line with our commitment to be participatory and accountable, we will establish a standing civil society feedback mechanism to guide us as we seek to implement a feminist approach. We will continue to look for innovative ways to break down barriers, to harness a diverse range of voices and ideas across Scotland and beyond to drive change.

We will explore opportunities to use the mechanism of our Global South Advisory Panel to harness Global South expertise. Our panel was established through our review of our approach to international development to provide ongoing Global South expertise and advice in relation to the Scottish Government’s international development policy and programming. We will work with the Panel and our other partners in the Global South to consider the future purpose, structure and remit of the Panel, including how it could be used to provide a Global South consultation mechanism in relation to Scotland’s feminist approach to international relations.

1.15 Further recommendations

This publication has focused on the overarching recommendations shaping the principles of Scotland’s Feminist Approach to International Relations. Our commitment to a feminist approach demonstrates both our ambition and our current priorities. There is more we can do to drive transformative change through our feminist approach to international relations. As a next step we will consider the further recommendations made on the four broad themes of international development and humanitarian, trade, climate justice, and peace and security.

As with the recommendations covered in this publication, these thematic recommendations will be considered against the following four criteria:

  • The recommendation does not duplicate work already underway;
  • The Scottish Government has the legal competence to progress the recommendation;
  • Existing independent evidence supports the adoption of the recommendation; and
  • The recommendation is feasible to progress in terms of available resource, capacity and delivery mechanisms.

Recommendations meeting these criteria will feed into further development of our feminist approach to international relations. This process ensures we are prioritising our work appropriately and assigning resources to where they will make the most difference.

1.16 Monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning

The Scottish Government is committed to continuous improvement, evidence-based decision-making, and stakeholder participation and engagement. Monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEAL) helps to:

  • Ensure accountability and transparency8;
  • Manage risk and uncertainty;
  • Improve current interventions by providing evidence to make better decisions
  • Gain a general understanding of what works, for whom and when, and generate examples for future policymaking; and
  • Develop evidence to inform future interventions.

In line with our feminist approach to international relations, we will seek to make the monitoring and evaluation process inclusive and collaborative. We will engage with relevant stakeholders, including those impacted by our policies, to build this active participation into our approach. We will also aim for our MEAL process to challenge power structures, enabling us to learn from mistakes and question assumptions.

The Scottish Government is accountable to the people of Scotland through its Parliament. Our feminist approach to international relations also recognises a moral accountability to those outwith Scotland, in particular communities in the Global South. We will support this by sharing information, supporting accessible participation and ensuring appropriate monitoring and feedback mechanisms.

We are committed to undertaking regular, proportionate and robust monitoring and evaluation. As our feminist approach to international relations continues to evolve, we will seek to identify specific commitments and be realistic about how long it takes to achieve cultural, social, economic and other types of change. We will publish a detailed monitoring and evaluation framework which will be based on the discussions and dialogue, once the multi-criteria analysis of the thematic recommendations has been concluded.


Email: laura.maclaughlin@gov.scot

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